Berkshire District Attorney audit uncovers only bookkeeping issues
PITTSFIELD -- A state audit of the Berkshire District Attorney’s office has pointed to some areas for recommended improvement while finding good internal control over financial records and appropriate administrative expenses and costs.
"We were pleased with the overall results of the audit findings," District Attorney David F. Capeless said in his written response to a draft of the report. "This office was well aware of some of the issues noted in your audit and, just prior to the commencement of the audit, we were in the process of updating and/or developing policies and procedures to address those issues. The audit process was beneficial to us in accomplishing these goals."
The routine audit by the office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump focused on a period from July 1, 2012, through Sept. 30, 2013. Such audits of state entities are conducted approximately every three years, according to a spokesman for the auditor.
The audit report’s executive summary states in part that the DA’s office had "maintained adequate internal controls over its financial records; its office costs and expenditures, including program and administrative costs, were appropriate and reasonable; its advanced expenses were properly processed and supported; its expenditures of forfeited funds were appropriate and complied with [state law]; and its internal control structure was suitably designed and implemented to safeguard commonwealth assets and complied with [state guidelines and state law]."
The summary adds, "However, BCDA needs to improve its controls over safeguarding assets in its inventory, reconciling and collecting forfeited funds, and processing employee leave time in a timely fashion."
Capeless said in a press release this week that "all audits are intended to improve the administrative and financial functions of an agency but, by their nature, seem to focus on the negatives."
He added that he was pleased with the several positive aspects cited in the audit report.
The final report, now posted on the auditor’s website at www.mass.gov/auditor/recent-audits.html, contains responses by the DA to each of the findings on how they have been addressed both during and since the audit.
Addressing the issue of delays in getting forfeited funds, Capeless said delays in actually depositing the funds are often due to appellate issues and the fact that co-defendant cases are still pending.
"I want to thank the state auditor’s office for their professional review of our financial situation as well as assisting us in improving our policies and procedures," he said in his statement.
The report notes that "for the fiscal years ended June 30, 2013, and June 30, 2014, the BCDA received state maintenance appropriations totaling $4,191,872 and $4,091,355, respectively, to fund its administrative operations."
During these two fiscal years, the office also "received $314,891 and $335,862, respectively, in state appropriations and funding from other sources to support various programs," the report stated.
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